Monday July 10, Joe Biden made a short stop in the United Kingdom, before going to the NATO summit in Lithuania. In the morning, the American president spoke security and Ukraine in Downing Street with the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, before going to Windsor Castle where he participated in a flash “climate summit”, at the invitation of King Charles III , intended to mobilize investments for the countries of the South.
The monarch’s passion for the environment is sincere and ancient. That of the British government is less obvious and in recent weeks, criticism has multiplied against Rishi Sunak, accused of neglecting the climate emergency.
On June 30, Secretary of State for Climate, Zac Goldsmith, resigned, explaining bluntly that his decision was motivated by “lack of interest” for the Prime Minister’s environment. “The government’s apathy for the greatest challenge we face makes it impossible to continue my task,” assured this member of the House of Lords on Twitter. Certainly Zac Goldsmith is an ally of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose enmity for Mr. Sunak, his former Chancellor of the Exchequer, is public. The resigning secretary of state was also singled out by the Westminster Parliament’s ethics committee for having supported Mr Johnson, despite the latter’s lies in the Downing Street holiday scandal. Beyond the reasons he invokes, Zac Goldsmith was on the way out anyway, insist his detractors.
However, he put his finger on a reality: since he arrived in Downing Street in October 2022, Rishi Sunak has taken up the climate issue very little, inaugurating his mandate by hesitating to participate in the COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, in Egypt – he ended up going there, under media and political pressure.
In December 2022, he authorized the first exploitation of a coal mine in the North West of England, thirty years after the closure of the last mine in the country and, for now, he endorses the issuance of operating licenses for oil and gas fields in the North Sea. The green light for the exploitation by the Norwegian Equinor of the enormous Rosebank field, off the Shetland Islands, would be imminent. Finally, according to Guardianthe government will have the greatest difficulty in keeping its commitment to devote 11.6 billion pounds sterling (13.5 billion euros) to the energy transition in vulnerable countries between 2021 and 2026.
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